Consistent road tests provide improved assessments

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Uniformity during road tests and consistency among driver evaluators is key to ensuring that candidates with similar skill levels can be properly assessed and hired if they meet requirements.

Chris Wilkinson, sales manager at Impirica, said sometimes evaluators use subjectivity to determine risk. They may be pressured by operations to hire a candidate, he told attendees at a webinar on Dec. 13, organized by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.

An opinion of who is a good driver and what are the qualifications and skill levels required to do the job may also differ from evaluator to evaluator.

Pre-trip inspection at AIMS
(Photo: Leo Barros)

Road tests are performed during pre-employment, performance reviews, when a driver returns to work, is changing the type of vehicle they drive and for training.

A road test should include a pre-trip inspection assessment, backing, coupling and uncoupling a trailer, air brake knowledge and an on-road segment. Most tests take between 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half. “It helps bulletproof your front door,” Wilkinson said.

They are worth the investment because they provide due diligence, assess abilities, reduce attrition rates and can lead to improved performance.

Wilkinson believes evaluators should be filling out the assessment during the test and not after returning to the yard. Errors that took place could be forgotten.

A test may not be telling you if the performance being marked on operational needs. And were there competency errors or bad habits that could be trained out of a driver?

An important component is evaluating the evaluators. Some work in their comfort zone, marking down similar errors and tracking performance similarly. Wilkinson stressed that evaluators must be trained during their onboarding and be provided with ongoing training updates.

Unintentional discrimination

Attention must also be paid to avoid unintentional discrimination, Wilkinson said. Age or race need not be the sole factor and there is no need to establish an intention. The discrimination will be the result of subtle unconscious beliefs, biases, and prejudices.

He highlighted the halo effect where the focus is on something positive; for example, both the evaluator and driver are fans of the same sports team. On the other end is the horn effect, where a negative thing is the focus. The idiosyncratic rater bias, where evaluators weigh their evaluations toward their own personal eccentricities, affects test results, Wilkinson added. “It is more ego than science,” he said.

Fleets should provide consistency and stress on standardization when conducting a road test, Wilkinson noted. It is also important that routes should be consistent and uniform along with the duration of the test.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at

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